At a time when state education funding is up for discussion in Austin, North Texas school leaders are looking for new ways to fund their technology programs by working with local businesses.
Superintendents from the Northwest, Lewisville and Irving school districts showed off their work with technology in the classroom to a large group of Fort Worth business leaders on Tuesday. Technology initiatives that put laptops and iPads in students' hands were among the highlights of the meeting.
"We have to look to business leaders, educators, parents, community leaders and collectively bridge the here-and-now with the future our kids are going to live in," Northwest Independent School District Superintendent Karen Rue said.
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The school districts hope to partner with and, in some cases, continue to partner with business leaders in order to expand technology offerings to students, a goal they say benefits both sides.
"Business leaders know the skills and the skill sets they want future employees to have," Rue said. "They also recognize that there is no better investment than today's students."
Jon Gustafson, of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, said the growing need for a skilled workforce requires students to get on the right track well before college.
"We represent the aerospace industry, and it's critical that students have the skills we need to be successful," he said. "It's critically important that they make the right career choices and that we provide the right infrastructure to enable them to be successful."
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of School Administrators and national representatives from the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, also attended the meeting.
"The education system needs to be innovative and it needs to reflect this economy that we live in now," said Michael Petro, CED executive vice president. "We think what they've done here in these communities is something that might be replicable in communities across the country."
Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Thorton said leaders from other school districts had hoped to attend but were tied up in Austin working on the legislative front.